In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Arab Spring, Mobilization, and Contentious Politics in the Middle East

  • Introduction
  • Revolutionary Crisis
  • Social Media and the Arab Spring
  • Regional and International Dimensions

Sociology Arab Spring, Mobilization, and Contentious Politics in the Middle East
Atef Said
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 February 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 February 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0191


The following is an annotated bibliography on the Arab Spring, specifically in relation to social movements and revolutions. This list is not comprehensive by any means. There are three rationales behind its organization. The first is the critical trend in the scholarship of revolution, according to which the scholarship calls for distinguishing revolutionary origins from processes and outcomes. The second is inspired by the characterization of the so-called “fourth generation” of scholarship on revolutions. According to Jack Goldstone and others, this generation gave more attention to the role of culture, agency, and processes in uprisings. Third, while this bibliography is particularly attentive to literature on revolutions and Social Movement Theory (SMT), it also includes larger debates regarding the Arab Spring in these fields: democracy and democratization, political transition, and the authoritarianism of the region. This list is divided in a way to reflect the three rationales. The title of the entry is broad to reflect these themes. And in addition to sections on origins, and process/transition and outcome, the bibliography includes sections on the relation between the Arab Spring and SMT literature; the role of agency in the Arab Spring; the role of social media; the role of culture; the role of various repertoires of contention; and the role of space and the role of regional and international politics. Besides, this bibliography includes a section on general introductory works to the Arab Spring as a whole. A few important notes should be mentioned here. First, there are continued debates regarding the proper definition of the Arab Spring. I use terms such as revolutions, uprisings, and spring interchangeably. Second, it should be noted that while works are presented in distinct sections, this is done for organizational purposes only; many of the issues covered in different sections are in fact connected. For example, a number of authors have talked about the significant role of youth in the Arab Spring in tandem with the role and use of social media. Third, the case of Egypt often occupies a place of theoretical and empirical privilege within the study of the Arab Spring. Resolving this problem goes beyond the purpose of this bibliography. I have included many important works that cover other cases, which directly witnessed uprisings and or generally were impacted by the Arab Spring. Still the dominance of works on Egypt is apparent here too.

Introductory Works

The following list includes useful general introductions to the subject of the Arab Spring, especially for undergraduate courses. Many of these works appeared in 2011 and 2012 and focused on two main questions: (1) how to revise existing arguments regarding robust authoritarianism in the region in light of the Arab Spring; and (2) how to rethink the relation of Islam to democracy. To a certain extent, both questions reflect the Orientalist and homogenizing assumptions that continue to shape thinking about the Arab world. In addition to these early works that focused on the “surprising” nature of the events, the list includes more critical works that appeared in 2013 and 2014 and went beyond celebratory analyses. Books are listed first, then articles.

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